Sunday, September 22, 2013

What a Shoe Means

Thanks to those of you that read my last submission on this blog for the Compassion International Bloggers month.  It is always gratifying when you not only learn that someone has read what you wrote but even more so when someone says they are touched by that writing.  

This week - well, actually last week's assignment was a creative writing assignment to use any of a few pictures they sent out for prompts. We were to imagine something about the person in the picture, their life, etc.. and write a story about it.  I've never fancied myself a creative writer.  Not terribly creative about much of anything. Oh, sure...this is a knitting blog to start with.  And yes!  I love to knit.  But ask me if I've ever dreamt up my own pattern, or dyed my own lovely shades of yarn or what have you.  I'll answer that with a resounding "no!"  I've bought pattern drafting software, taken classes, etc...  Nope.  Its not in me.  

I easily decided opt out of this one,. (lovely to not be a student anymore and have the luxury of saying "nyet!", hmm?). But, I just couldn't get the picture prompt of these shoes out of my head.

Just one look at these shoes on this little child fills my head with so many images!  It doesn't take a rich fantasy life to imagine the type of life this child must live.  No doubt these shoes probably belonged to several other family members and possibly a few other feet she never knew before they landed in her lap as a precious gift. Amazed that something so beat up could be considered precious?  Although in our homes these little shoes would have hit the trash bin long ago and be considered unusable without laces there's not a doubt in my mind that she clutched them to her chest in happiness when they were given to her. Perhaps she waited for weeks or months or even years to get a pair that came close to fitting so that she wouldn't have to walk barefoot.  These might possibly be the first shoes she's ever had! 

Walking barefoot in the third world.  This is not the thing of beach blanket movies and perpetual summertime. While in medical school we learned of many awful diseases that affect a person's body when they don't have the ability to protect their feet. Not only are they exposed to the trauma of walking on unpaved surfaces but there are often shards of glass, exposed metal as well as all manner of discarded stuff rotting in the elements, including human excrement.  I know, euwww!  

In addition to infection from trauma, other diseases of the foot may sound exotic but are absolutely life threatening.  From the huge sores of "Madura Foot" to the insidious disease of Hookworm, there are dangers lurking around every corner for the poor unshod person of the third world. *Warning*  The pictures at the above links are pretty graphic so beware!!  Not surprising to find multiple attempts by people to make shoes out of cardboard boxes, old tires and the ever versatile duct tape.  
Yes, these were plastic bottles!

Given the importance of shoes and the difficulty obtaining them, it's probably a safe bet that our pictured child may have felt she hit the jackpot to have what appear to be leather shoes that come close to fitting her!  What a new lease on life these shoes must mean!  Not only will she be able to play without hurting herself but she can now be of help to her family when it comes to carrying things and helping with meals. Most importantly, it may mean she can now go to school!  

We were surprised to learn that in many African countries the children are often not allowed in school if they do not have the proper school uniform!  How heartbreaking knowing that the path out of poverty is education and the roadblock to get there is not intelligence or even the tuition but what the child wears! 

I am always gratified by the wonderful pictures Compassion sends me of my adopted girls holding the presents they have purchased with the birthday and Christmas money I send.  I have seen my girls posing with goats and roofing materials and lovely shoes. 

These shoes and other purchases have taken on a different level of meaning for me since I've been to Africa. Likewise, the overflowing shoe closet I currently shuffle through has become even more of an embarrassment after learning of how closely these precious ones cherish the one pair of shoes they have.  Amazing how little they have - even more amazing the contrast between that and what we have!  

I urge you to consider sponsoring a waiting child at Compassion International and start having the heartwarming experience of knowing you've helped them live a better life. Thank you 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Thank you for not opting out. I hadn't considered what diseases people could catch just through walking around barefoot. Isn't sponsorship one of the best decisions you can make?

    I found your post through the #CompassionBloggers hatchtag on Facebook.